March 12, 2015
Like so many people in the design community, I’m saddened by the death today of Michael Graves. His cheeky, sometimes cartoonish Postmodernism was not for everyone; it was usually (but not always) for me.
Clearly, though, Graves left Washington better than he found it. The courthouse annex he designed on Pennsylvania Avenue is wonderful, a light, graceful riff on ponderous federal classicism. And who can resist the St. Coletta charter school? It is a lovable building, and there aren’t too many buildings you can say that of these days.
There will be other, far more eloquent tributes to Graves, so suffice it to say that his late-life commitment to universal design principles, and to bringing good design to the masses, were inspiring. RIP.
Now, if only the National Park Service would re-erect Graves’ scaffolding on the Washington Monument. It never looked better. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr.)
Graves’ Washington-area projects (in no particular order):
William Bryant Annex, U.S. Courthouse, Washington, D.C.
St. Coletta of Greater Washington, Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Transportation Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
International Finance Corporation Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
Interior of Sigma Chi Townhouse, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
Perseus Office, Washington, D.C.
Beatley Central Library, Alexandria, Va.
Wounded Warrior Home Project, Fort Belvoir, Va.